Best cat accessories — Litter-Robot is a game-changer 

Plus a vet talks about some of the essentials for a healthy cat

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Sometimes dogs get more attention in the media, but cats are the bees knees. There’s no musical called “Dogs” though. This article is all about cats. From the best litter to the coolest toys and that super popular Litter-Robot so many feline owners are talking about.

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Makers of the Litter-Robot promise you will “never scoop again” if you own this automatic self-cleaning litter box.

It dramatically reduces odors and with its patented sifting system separates and disposes of clumps after your cat exits, rolling waste into a carbon-filtered drawer. Good for the cat who gets a clean box every time and for owners who simply have to empty the waste drawer about once a week per cat.

It available in the non-app version, the Litter-Robot 3 ($669) or the Litter-Robot 3 Connect which is WiFi-enabled, allowing you to use the app which, among other things, notifies you when the waste drawer needs your attention.

The Litter-Robot 3 is available on their site (but they don’t ship to Quebec) and on Amazon.

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Weight requirement: Cats should weigh at least 2.25kg

How many cats can it accommodate: Three to four indoor cats per single Litter-Robot; if you have more you will have to empty the drawer more often

If your cat is a no-go: It comes with a 90-day in-home trial, 18-month warranty and free shipping. If you don’t like it, return it within three months for a refund.

Makes cat bathroom breaks odor-free: Almost. While it will not eliminate all litter box odor it is significantly lowered. That’s achieved partially by quickly removing litter from the box and the large carbon filter in the waste drawer absorbing odors and moisture to prevent mold growth

Regular litter: The Litter-Robot requires clay-based clumping litter.

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Eco-friendly: By disposing of soiled litter only, the patented litter-sifting system maximizes the amount of recycled, clean litter. Lower litter consumption means less waste headed for the landfill and fewer purchases of litter

Is it worth it?

According to rave reviews, yes. And we spoke to an Ontario vet who’s intrigued.

“I’m on the edge of ordering it myself,” says Dr. Sarah Machell. “Hundreds of my colleagues say it’s life changing.”

Thinking of bringing a cat home?

We asked Dr. Machell, medical director with Vetster, a veterinary medicine online telemedicine platform where pet owners can get on-demand virtual vet appointments 24/7, what a new cat keeper needs to know.

But first, we clarified where the vet, who was inspired to go into her profession by a feline named Marmalade, stands on the dog versus cat debate.

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“I have three dogs and two cats … but I’m actually a cat person at heart who ended up with dogs,” she said. “Cats are the forgotten pets. There are more cats as pets than dogs but as a society, we tend to talk about dogs.

“Cats are wonderful. They are smart, affectionate and low maintenance compared to dogs and their companionship is really good,” she added. “I love the fact that they are discretionary compared to dogs. When you win a cat’s affection, it’s really saying something.”

The vet on treats: Catnip falls into several categories — as a “wonderful treat, toy, motivator, life enhancer.” But it isn’t a fit for all cats. That is because kind of similar to humans and cilantro (love it or hate it) cats are either genetically able to smell and perceive catnip or not.

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“If a cat carries genes that make them able to perceive catnip, it’s quite stimulating, it makes them happy and a little bit intoxicated, it’s pleasure for them,” Machell said. “There is really no negative for it we’ve been able to find.”

She said cats are not necessarily as treat motivated as dogs and, sadly, many treats for felines tend to have a fairly high sugar content that they end up craving and becoming addicted to.

Because they are carnivores (dogs are omnivores) they are not set up to consume large quantities of carbohydrates, Machell said.

She suggests when looking for treats to choose something with protein high up on the list of ingredients and sugars, fructose and glucose-like content lower on the list. Opt for freeze-dried options like Pure Bites over baked which can be found in liver, chicken and other varieties.

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Hydrate: “Something I often share with new cat owners is, first and foremost, cats are terrible at properly hydrating themselves. They are instinctively hardwired to conserve fluid and water and are kind of like camels,” she said. “Especially with a new kitten or new cat, I encourage getting a water foundation or two. They will drink fresh flowing water much more readily than from a dish. In fact, cats have been found to avoid that.”

Multiple meals: “They are healthiest when eating multiple small meals a day. In the wild, I have ten to 12 meals a day. One of the bad habits we fall into is having a big bowl filled up with kibble. Cats do far better if we invest in timed feeders or feeding play toys.”

She says cats dig the Doc and Phoebe Indoor Hunter Cat Feeder.

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Ensure that at least 50 per cent of a cat’s diet is canned food to encourage more moisture.

Enhance their environment: Cats love to climb and be up high so that can include adding shelving or cat trees/. It does not mean letting them outdoors unsupervised.

“Statistically, the average lifespan of an indoor cat is significantly longer than an outdoor cat. The reasons are pretty obvious, predatory risk, dangers of vehicles, parasites. Most vets encourage cats to be indoors and focus on their environment and ensure it’s rich.”

Leash and harness walks are an option for those willing to train their cat. And tents with mesh screens are safe when supervised.

Laserpointers are great.

Machell also says cats are incredibly routine-oriented, something which should be respected. She said they can tell time and know an owner’s routine. So, if you are heading back to the office for work, she cautions your cat will notice. Try to keep the same pre and post-work routine to help them adjust.

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Top avoidable issues she sees as a vet:

  1. Obesity and it’s 100 per cent related to the “set-and-forget-it” (way of feeding.) Be more proactive in measuring and meal feeding to avoid that. Opt for canned food because it has significantly higher protein.
  2. Letting the cat outside and incur associated injuries and wounds from cat fights etc.
  3. Kidney issues. For male cats be knowing you feed them a urinary health diet. Canned food, with its extra moisture, helps flush out the bladder to prevent the cat from getting urinary crystals, think sand in the bladder, which can obstruct its ability to pee and can be life threatening.
  4. Be proactive to avoid dental disease. Work with your vet to come up with a plan. It is a misnomer that wet food promotes dental problems. And yes, brushing is possible.
  5. Get regular vet care so you are ensuring your cat can take advantage of preventative health care

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Popular must-have for cat owners

We consulted cat owners, pet stores and online reviews to come up with a list of stuff. From top toys to tents, an interesting litter box option and some trinkets for the owners, too.

Laser focus for your feline

keep kitty busy

A cat laser for lazy owners

Bag of mice is always nice

House Mouse Helen We would buy this one, just for the name and knowing no real mice would be harmed.

That flipping fish everyone is talking about

A less pricey version

Sounds like fun

My parents’ cat liked this so much she kept everyone up at night

Their bathroom in your bathroom

For cats who like to camp

For those who are cat lovers and proud

For those who are proud but want to be subtle about it

Cat pendant

Low-budget entertainment for almost any cat

When we asked around about what was the top cat toy many people said paper bags and boxes (to crawl in and out of.) We will leave you to your own devices on that one.

Shopping Essentials is a new category that features highly-researched products, new and exciting launches or behind-the-scenes info — learn more. All prices are accurate on the day of publication.



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